Dutch Lesson 2

Lesson 2: Articles and Gender


Apparently you’ve succesfully finished lesson one, so now we can continue with the second lesson. In this lesson you’ll learn how to describe certain objects. First of all, we are going to teach you articles. In the previous lesson you learned how to say “He is father” but that sounds a little bit tarzan-like. Wouldn’t it sound better if you could say “He is a father” or “He is the father” ? That’s what you’ll learn now. Take a look at these Dutch sentences:
 Hij is een vader  He is a father
 Zij is de moeder  She is the mother
 Het is de stoel  It is the chair
 Het is een stoel  It is a chair
 Het is een huis  It is a house
 Het is het huis  It is the house
It looks pretty logical at the beginning. You’ll quickly notice that “een” is the correct Dutch translation of “a” and “an”. But what’s the correct translation of “the”? You see two different Dutch word for “the”, you see “de” and “het”, but which one is the right one? Of course they are both right, otherwise we wouldn’t show them to you.


But how can it be possible that the word “the” has two translations in Dutch? This has to do with the difficult concept of noun gender, a concept not known in English but is in almost every other language. In most other languages a noun has a certain gender. So you’re telling me a noun can be a boy or a girl? Indeed…that’s what we’re saying. A noun has a certain gender in Dutch (and many other Germanic languages). There are three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. Every noun (note that this gender concept only applies to nouns) has one of these three genders. How to determine what gender is very hard. In Dutch gender is not very imporant because it doesn’t effect many grammar rules. But nevertheless some grammar rules are dependent of the gender of the noun, so you’ll have to learn the gender of each noun. One grammar rule that is gender-dependent is the formation of the definite articles, in other words, how “the” is translated in Dutch. When the noun to which the article applies is a masculine or feminine noun, then “the” is translated as “de”. If the article applies to a neuter noun, then the article that has to be used is “het”. That’s why we said “het huis” and “de stoel”; “huis” is a neuter word and “stoel” is a masculine or feminine word (most Dutch people can’t even tell this. The difference between masculine and feminine isn’t very important in Dutch, but for those who want to know, it is a masculine word).

Hebben – to have

In this lesson we’ll also introduce another irregular Dutch verb, the verb “hebben”, which means “to have”. Take a look at the full conjugation and translation of this verb:
 Ik heb  I have
 Jij hebt  You have
 Hij/Zij/Het heeft  He/she/it has
 Wij hebben  We have
 Jullie hebben  You have
 Zij hebben  They have
Now you’ve learned a new verb, memorize it.


In this lesson you’ve learned the concept of noun gender, what articles to use, and another irregular verb.


Learn the following words. The words of the previous lesson are mentioned again, but this time we also show what definite article to use.


 de vader  the father
 de moeder  the mother
 de oma  the grandmother
 de opa  the grandfather
 de stoel  the chair
 het huis  the house
 de tafel  the table
 de kat  the cat
 de hond  the dog
 het bot  the bone
 het dier  the animal
 het gebouw  the building


Exercise A: Translate to English: 1) Een kat is een dier. 2) Het huis is een gebouw. 3) De hond heeft een bot. 4) Ik heb een kat. 5) De vader heeft een huis. 6) De vader en de moeder hebben een hond. 7) Jullie hebben een huis. Exercise B: Translate to Dutch: 1) The grandmother has a cat. 2) A cat is an animal. 3) The table has a chair. 4) The grandmother and the grandfather have a dog. 5) The mother has a dog and the father has a cat. 6) We have a table. 7) They have the house.


Solution of Exercise A: 1) A cat is an animal. 2) The house is a building. 3) The dog has a bone. 4) I have a cat. 5) The father has a house. 6) The father and the mother have a dog. 7) You have a house. Solution of Exercise B: 1) De oma heeft een kat. 2) Een kat is een dier. 3) De tafel heeft een stoel. 4) De oma en de opa hebben een hond. 5) De moeder heeft een hond en de vader heeft een kat. 6) Wij hebben een tafel. 7) Zij hebben het huis.

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